President Donald Trump has joined the chorus of forces calling for the privatization of the U.S. Postal Service. But he says he wants to “fix” it first.
According to Government Executive Trump wants to commercialize the agency which has more than half a million employees and was mandated as part of the U.S. Constitution https://www.govexec.com/management/2018/06/trumps-postal-privatization-plan-met-bipartisan-rebuke-congress/149306/?oref=govexec_today_nl. This idea is part of a plan he, or at least his administration, thinks will make government agencies run more “efficiently”—that tired tenet of right-wing corporate rhetoric.
Specific proposals reportedly will come out next month that supposedly will put the USPS on a more stable financial footing. Unfortunately a lot of that more solid foundation seems to involve privatizing the postal service, reducing employees and cutting back on its obligation to provide universal service to the country.
Talk about an idea that’s totally dead on arrival.
Despite all the hoopla about the USPS’s inability to operate in a financially responsible manner, one must never forget its deficits were artificially created in the 2006 Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act which mandated that the agency fork over $5.8 billion per year to cover the healthcare costs of future retiring \employees until well into the next century. That law was supposedly a postal reform measure and it did indeed stabilize how postal rates are set in addition to making some other reforms. Without that millstone, the postal service would likely be profitable or close to it.
This is why the postal service has reported annual losses of more than $1 billion for more than 10 years.
With many other crucial issues facing the U.S. at the moment, one wonders how much attention Trump will pay to the postal service. At this writing, massive protests against the President’s hardball tactics about illegal immigration were taking place in many cities across the country. Logically, you would think Congress is more likely to take notice of this than any half-baked ideas about postal privatization. Especially in August when Congress goes on vacation and faces an election two months later.
Not to mention what’s likely to be a bruising fight over replacing departing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy.
On the other hand, maybe postal reform has a chance to pass after this year’s Congressional election. That of course will depend on which political party controls at least one house of Congress going forward.
Something else to consider: how much attention span Trump has for the whole USPS issue.
But one can’t ignore, the other factors working against the USPS and its employees. For example the Supreme Court last week outlawed the practice allowing unions to solicit dues from all public sector employees even if they did not belong to a union. It’s too early to tell how much this will or will not affect the strength of labor groups in negotiating contracts.
Some reports suggest that the change in the union dues-paying structure will inevitably reduce their numbers, hence their bargaining power. It’s way too early to tell but the current signs look ominous.